AMA Wants Congress to Postpone ICD-10 Adoption Deadline

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UPDATE ON 2/16/12 — HHS has agreed to postpone the ICD-10 deadline. A new deadline has not yet been set.

The American Medical Association urged Congress this month to postpone the scheduled change to ICD-10 codes in 2013.

The ICD-10 codes are supposed to be in use by 2013 as part of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Most of the world has already switched to the new set of codes. However, the AMA warns that U.S. doctors are ill-prepared at this point to switch to ICD-10.

The new requirement expands from 13,000 to 68,000 codes that doctors have to deal with, according to the AMA in its letter to Congress.

“The implementation of ICD-10 will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patient care, and will compete with other costly transitions associated with quality and health IT reporting programs,” the letter states.

Radiologists face special challenges in adopting the ICD-10 codes, says an RSNA article from last month.The new coding method aims to be more specific, but most of the codes used by radiologists are unspecific.

Implementing the new ICD-10 codes was scheduled to begin Jan 1, 2012, when the HIPAA transaction standards must be upgraded in preparation for the conversion. AMA in its letter to Congress says doctors may fail to meet this initial deadline.

For a related article at TheHill.com click here.